Quite a bit has happened over the last week, the least of the stuff being work. Once again snow has turned up, covered everything, and thrown my pre-Christmas work schedule completely out of the window!
The plants in our garden don't know whether they are coming or going, deep freeze one minute and then a sunny thaw the next, and now back into the freezer. I noticed the oddest thing this morning when looking out of the kitchen window at one of our Acacias........it was flowering.......in December.....in the snow.......the whole tree.....blimey!!
The Christmas tree is up, have just got back from a mad shopping trip for presents. Church carol singing with a beer and the vicar in the local pub last night, Amanda meeting younger daughter Rebecca in Soho Bar for dinner tonight. Me, well I am going to do a night time drive into some properties to see if the snow has cleared enough to do anything tomorrow. Should be doing a planting scheme at one, pruning seven trees at another, and tidying up three more before Christmas Eve......not sure any of that is going to happen though...we will see tonight.
In the meantime let me take you on a journey through some of Bath, where we both had a wonderfully romantic weekend.
We stayed for two nights and three days at the Paradise House Hotel, a beautiful house overlooking the whole of Bath itself.
The terraced gardens are over 200 years old, and contain narrow, secret pathways that open out to new vistas. Nothing had been cut down at this point, giving everything the appearence of one gigantic dried flower arrangement.
We have stayed here many times, it is simply THE best place to stay when visiting Bath. As usual, we were welcomed warmly and shown to the lounge where we were made comfortable with fresh coffee and an assortment of nibbles, whilst the manager checked over the booking and updated us on any events happening in the town. It was icy cold outside, and the roaring fire was lovely.
About an hour later, once we had finished coffee and had a bit of a read of the books available, we were shown to our room, one that we hadn't stayed in before, known as a queen suite. Attached was a beautiful bathroom, complete with large whirlpool bath. As with all return visitors, a complimentary ice bucket with champagne and some fresh strawberries lay ready for us in our room.
A few things were planned for our stay, the first being a performance of Handels 'Messiah'. We have seen this many times at Christchurch Priory, where a full choir and orchestra were used, along with a solo baritone and tenor. This performance was to be as original to the first ever performance as possible. All in 18th century costume, candlelight, a harpsichord, 12 musicians and a similar number of singers.
The audience waited with baited breathe for this masterpiece to begin, as the candles were lit.
The lights were dimmed, and the next couple of hours were spent listening to one of the greatest oratorio pieces of all time
The following day saw us doing our favourite thing, just walking and exploring.
Abbey Gardens is a shop where most things for the garden can be purchased, and pretty much all of it second hand and/or antique. Gina, you would love it!
The architecture of Bath is remarkable, and quite diverse, the newer but still very old bath stone terraces blending strangely well with older buildings of a completely different style. I nearly got mowed down several times by irate motorists, as I stood in the middle of the road, legs planted firmly and widely to get the shot, it is art you understand, and people have lost there lives in the name of it, so who am I to be different!
Little bits of interest are around every corner, some very modern, some regency, and some Roman.
Another part of Abbey Gardens, the cart was beautiful, but not quite sure where in the garden it could go.
Spires, arches, towers, tunnels and steps abound in this fascinating place.
Queen Square to the west of the city is a place alive with activity during the summer. The trees, now bare, are stunning in full leaf. Art exhibitions and live performances occur on a regular basis. Today it was cold, windy and wintery.
Along the main street you will come across this, and upon going through, passing market traders, mime artists and musicians, will come to a large courtyard. Flanked on three sides by cafes, then the Abbey, and finally the ancient and original Roman Baths and for the hungry, the Pump Rooms, where a totally decadent, but equally elegant time can be spent consuming the best sandwiches, cakes, tea and pastries this side of the Ritz Hotel, and more fine bone china and chandelier than one can shake the proverbial stick at.
The parks of Bath are simply stunning, and merge with the architecture perfectly.
This particular park, Parade Gardens to the east of the city, brings you to a large weir, quite hypnotic to watch, and beyond is the seriously old Pulteney Bridge.
I just love solid stone work such as this forming the arches.
On the bridge, slightly reminiscent of Ponte Vecchio in Floence, are small shops selling top quality wares. From toy soldiers to flowers, and rustic household items to designer clothing and jewellery. The only thing we could afford was a miniature hand painted stone heart as a gift from me to the gorgeous girl on my arm. Maybe diamonds one day!
Near to the Abbey Gardens shop are plenty of second hand clothes shops. Amanda was on the hunt for a well used leather jacket, and although the first place we tried had what appeared to be hundreds, they were all suspended in the eaves of this vast disused church building. The whole interior space must have been home to quite literally thousands of used clothes dating back more years than I care to remember, and alas the smell confirmed this also. And so it was into an establishment a few doors down, plenty of retro stuff there, but no jacket!
The day came to an end, we retired to our room in the hotel, and a dinner of lobster, fresh fruit and chocolate mousse with more champagne, before dressing up in our finery once more for an evening browsing the Christmas market that Bath is world famous for. But it wasn't there as it had finished the night before, and if you ask me the 12th December is a little early in my book. Oh well, The Garrick's Head pub sufficed for the next three and a half hours, whereupon we settled ourselves nicely around the open fire, and as taxis were the order of the day, Amanda was able to enjoy several good whisky's and I had a little too much real ale, while we talked and talked.
Home time has to come at some point, and to cushion the blow, we decided to skip the hotels amazing breakfast and head to a tiny cafe called The Hub, in the very heart of the city. Giant full english breakfast all round and copious amounts of tea with the daily newspapers. A little shop browsing for ideas and a final coffee and cake at a lovely delicatessan/cafe at The Fine Cheese Shop on the way out of town.
I'm a huge bread fan, but alas a yeast intolerance means that now in my old age I blow up like a balloon if I eat it. This doesn't however stop me from just thinking 'stuff it', and putting up with the bloat for that perfect taste of proper bread. This place to me was the equivalent of a drug dealer to an addict.
So, bye bye beautiful room with the fantastic views,
and see you again Paradise Hotel! xxx